Some of my mail after I debated Horowitz on Laura Ingraham’s Show

So I took on the fool’s errand of going on right-wing talk radio with David Horowitz. Before they hung up on me I think I said the things I felt were important, namely:

•I am an award-winning teacher appreciated by a number of conservative students. I won the College of Communication Teaching Excellence Award this year, partly because my classes are spaces of open debate and engagement.

•According to a recent and credible study conducted by sociologists at the University of Akron, the University is not overrun by leftists.

•Education in the “universe-ity” is about exposing students to thoughts and ideas and perspectives they didn’t have before getting to college, and about teaching them to think for themselves.

•My classes are voluntary and my students do indeed think for themselves. They are offended by the idea that they are being indoctrinated.

•Horowitz’s idea of balance in the curriculum is flawed for any number of reasons. If all ideas are equal including those without any basis in fact—creationism,  racism, slavery, justifications of the oppression of women, the idea that gay people cause natural disasters–we are left with creeping relativism, something he says he opposes.

•We don’t see him calling for balance in the business school (why no labor leaders on the faculty?), economics department (only one Marxist?), or geology (funded largely by oil research). He’s not for balance. He’s for orthodoxy–his.

•Iran’s president wanted to purge academics of critics and leftist academics; so does Mr. Horowtiz.

•I regard activism as separate from teaching. It takes place in a rough-and-tumble political scene where representatives of the right are engaged in a real culture war. I do not feel obligated to be polite toward someone who wants me to be fired.

•Horowitz is interested in actually censoring (not heckling, not annoying, but firing and jailing) critics of the administration in the name of openness and freedom. This is nothing short of McCarthyism disguised in the language of democracy.

_______

SO, even though I did get cut off after being baited with a question having nothing to do with my teaching, I thought I did pretty well. Some of my critics don’t think so, however. Here’s some mail:

This one is my favorite–The author (name withheld), to his credit, goes from comparing me to Hitler to wishing me well over the course of three emails. I actually do think it is worthwhile to respond to some hate mail. But certainly not to the ones that tell me I just need to get laid and then I wouldn’t have any problems. There are some of those here too.

From Don:

I understand. The old adage of the “squeaky wheel gets the grease is true” and if you feel that your job is threatened, I also understand. I guess my real beef is that tolerance is either “tolerance or it is not”, it has to go both ways. I also feel that lack of civility is killing our sense of decency and destroying our souls. What good is a kicking, screaming victory against a kicking, screaming opponent? In the immortal words of Pete Townshend, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

It has been a pleasure corresponding with you. I know you are busy, so good luck.
This is a reply to

From: Dana Cloud [mailto:dcloud@mail.utexas.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 11:59 AM
To:

Subject: Re: Your biggest fan

I appreciate that.
I have a bracelet that says, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”
Seriously, there is a culture war on and the rules of engagement do not include being polite to people who want to get me fired.
I am attaching a piece I wrote; don’t feel obligated to write back if you don’t want to.

Cheers,
dc
This is a reply to

On 3/7/07 10:47 AM, ” wrote:
Thank you for the lengthy response. I do appreciate it. What you say may be true, but it still doesn’t excuse your bad behavior and lack of tolerance for opposing points of view. Horowitz may be despicable in your eyes, but he does have a right to speak, as do you.
Take care

This is a reply to

From: Dana Cloud [mailto:dcloud@mail.utexas.edu] <mailto:dcloud@mail.utexas.edu%5d>
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:51 PM
To:

Subject: Re: Your biggest fan

Turn that sarcasm around and see what Horowitz represents: exactly what you say—intolerance in the face of tolerance. And being rude to someone and critical of them is not to be intolerant. To want them to get fired is intolerant. To send them hate mail is intolerant. I get heckled all the time and it comes with the terrority of sticking it out there politically.

Horowitz thinks that students can’t think for themselves. I hope students here will tell him where to get off. Critical thinking is not indoctrination; when the entire political landscape is dominated by one point of view, there are few spaces in society where students may be exposed to points of view not available in many mainstream outlets. Teaching critical thinking and alternative points of view is a good thing. I have found that my students can hold their own.

I’ve had a large number of conservative students. Most of them do well, and some of them are fans of mine.

Here is a letter from one such student.
“To the Editor:

“Let’s get two things straight before we begin. I am a fervent capitalist and extremely conservative, so no one can say I’m writing this for any reason except out of my absolute admiration for Dr. Cloud. And before anyone dismisses me as a young, easily impressionable college kid, I’m 43 years old and the mother of children older than many of you reading this. With that said, I would like to go on record in saying that Dana Cloud is one of the finest teachers I have had the joy to encounter during my college experience.

“It is painfully and pathetically obvious that Mr. Horowitz did not have the intellectual honesty nor the journalistic integrity to interview any of Dr. Cloud’s students before writing his hit piece. I rather strongly disagree with some of Dr. Cloud’s positions, but while I was her student, I felt completely comfortable stating my opinions in class, regardless of whether I agreed with her or not.

“Dr. Cloud did what a good educator is supposed to do: she provided a forum for an open and lively debate of ideas. She encouraged everyone to give their opinions. She provided materials that were thought-provoking, which, as far as I understand it, is the very point of going to college. As a person, I find Dr. Cloud delightful. As an educator, I find Dr. Cloud exemplary. One of the 101 most dangerous professors? Only if you think a professor who is unfailingly open and honest is dangerous.

“I may not agree or even like some of Dr. Cloud’s political positions. But she is my fellow American and has the right to express her beliefs. And I point out again, that as an educator, she never forced her beliefs on anyone, never tried to “indoctrinate” in the classroom. She is an intelligent, vibrant, and wonderfully effective educator, and I pray that this situation serves as a springboard for people to discuss the vital issues of civil rights and freedom of speech.

“I will be horrified if Dr. Cloud is damaged by the obviously slanted piece done by Mr. Horowitz. With all honesty, there are only 4 professors I have had who truly stand out in my mind as wonderful teachers after 122 hours of college. Dr. Cloud, without one second’s hesitation, is the top of those four and I consider it an honor to speak for her publicly.

Paula Hudson
Senior, Corporate Communication”
AND finally, this is a reply to the first email: On 3/6/07 5:24 PM, “wrote:
Dear Comrade in Arms,
I admire and respect your use of intolerance in the name of tolerance. I often employed it to great advantage. Your brilliant tactic of encouraging debate and free thinking and then organizing a protest against another’s right to speak is brilliant. I love the hypocrisy of it. If only I had employed it myself, I may be alive today and leader of the “Free” World. I could have used people like you.
Sincerely,
Adolf

_______

I was encouraged to receive many letters of support but am withholding names of these authors to spare them the kind of ugly mail I have been getting.

Prof. Cloud:

I wanted to drop a note of encouragement to you after your
appearance on the Laura Ingraham Show, where I thought that
you were treated quite badly. To tell the truth, as a
rhetoric and composition teacher, I felt treated badly.
Ingraham’s hostile comments about “critical thinking”
revealed the true long-term objective of those hostile to
higher education and academic freedom.

You wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a transcript
of your segment?

Keep up the good work!
name withheld
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of English
University withheld

I heard you today on Laura Ingraham’s joke of a radio show. As usual, you were a logical, clearthinking intellectual attempting to make some sort of progress against a barrage of cheap hype and emotionalism. Horowitz and Ingraham are what I call “political pornographers” in that they try to reduce an infinitely complex subject to a caricature of itself meant to jerk from its listeners a “gut” response. Cheap, false, and, ultimately, useless.

I write to encourage you, doctor, not that you need encouragement. Simply, instead, to let you know that you are not alone; that there are those of out here who find Ingraham and her ilk to be far, far more dangerous to our country than you are, because they seek to SHUT DOWN thought and to INHIBIT free exercise of inquiry. They are the worst examples of the very types of thinking that brought us Mr. McCarthy, as you bravely, but vainly, attempted to point out.

Thank you for your effort, Dr. Cloud. Keep it coming. We aren’t all morons out here.

Las Cruces, NM

Dr. Cloud:
I just wanted to compliment you on holding your own (and then some) with the bullies on that show. I actually listen frequently to Laura. She is, at base, intelligent and well-educated, but she tends to let her political philosophy interfere with her intelligence.
Having attended Berkeley in the early 1970’s, when the faculty was still leaning right (or at least center, lol), and the student body was leading way left, I have always thought that professors really have a lot less of an impact on what we think as opposed to how we evaluate and use what we learn.
I certainly left Berkeley far more liberal than I was when I started, mostly because of professors who encouraged discussions and, at times, conflict. I’d rather be taught by someone who challenges my point of view; how else does one get exposed to, as you put it so well, the ‘universe-ity’.

Not all of us who are to your right politically are backward and close-minded. I admire you for going on the show, and for your style of advocacy. My son (a junior in high school here in LA) is considering UT-Austin for college (we visited last June when we attended the wedding of our potential daughter-in-law’s father in Mason, up in the Hill Country–what a grand campus and terrific city), and our older son may attend grad school in library science at UT next year. If the other teachers are half as feisty as you are, that must be one hell of a university!
Best regards,
Los Angeles, CA

Dr. Cloud,

You were cut off and outnumbered. I appreciated your
appearing on Laura’s show. My daughter is taking a
Women’s Studies course at SUNY-Brockport this semester
and I was hoping to hear more about the protest that
delayed David Horowitz’ talk at your campus.

It sounds like you didn’t deny being part of a group
that disrupted and delayed David Horowitz’ talk for
about 20 minutes when he was invited to UT.

Is that true and if so, how do you justify the effort
to shut down an exchange of ideas on a university
campus?

Best regards,

Fairport, NY

Dear Dr. Cloud,
I admire your strength and courage in fighting the attacks made against you
by Horowitz. Your latest response to the editors of the Daily Texan was
brilliant. The points you make about the diverse ideological views,
particularly the dominant conservative views in many, many departments in
the academy, are always overlooked in the (right-wing) mainstream media.

I, too, am named in the Dangerous Professors book and like many others, the
information about my research and in-class activities are either distorted
or completely inaccurate. I do advocate agency in the name of social justice
in my education courses, and I name my ideological position in the
classroom, but I do not indoctrinate students as my teaching evaluations
prove. I, too, encourage my students to bring in diverse readings to class
and am always encouraging them to question and challenge my readings and
even me. I do not believe I have yet earned the distinguished title of
‘dangerous’ since I am only in my 4th year and untenured (going up in fall
2007), but nonetheless, I am honored (and humbled) to be in the presence of
scholars such as yourself … many of those listed I studied in graduate
school at Penn State (Cultural Studies Program).

This experience has been a rollercoaster of a ride for me, emotionally and
mentally, so as I read the emails on our list serve, especially your
responses to the attacks, I gain a sense of strength and courage through you
(may sound corny, I know). Anyway, I simply wanted to write to express my
admiration. Take care.

Best,
_______
And now we’re in the land of the truly ugly:

Miss Cloud;

It’s hard to believe, listening to you, that you are any type of teacher.

Every other thing you said was barely literate.

Among the “gems” were your “HUGE range of subjects” statement. As with any “valley girl”, you failed to say “Wide Range”, but used a kid word, (huge), that cannot apply to the subject you were addressing.

As for your obvious seeking to be popular with kids at any cost, you certainly are an example of one of the descriptions of a predator or child molester.

Amazing that you even graduated high school.

R. Welles

Professor Cloud:
Heard you on WABC Laura Ingram show. Regarding your anti America thinking> I would love to inject myself into your class of free thinking. My question to you . If you was a professor in Saudi Arabia, North Korea ,Palestinian university or even in Russia. etc. How long do you think you would last as a living person regarding your anti government rhetoric in those countries? We have a saying referring to people like you. Only in America. My advice to you since I think you lack sex or engage in lesbian sex, is to get laid with a good wholesome thick cock.

Sincerely,

Albert aaf1315@aol.com

From SOLARSAIL <solarsail_5@juno.com>:

You’re a sexual deviant with a daughter?!!
You should be arrested for child abuse!

Shame on you!
From stellardrivepete@bellsouth.net:

Just a thought. How DARE an academic spout off about “McCarthyism” when university campuses are rife with speech codes that are skewed to favor the Left while suppressing challenges, and have draconian repercussions for transgressors! Plus, the idea you have that shouting down a speaker with your political tantrum, is an example of “allowing all views”, demonstrates proverbial liberal hypocrisy. Leftists act out as such, because their theories tend to wilt upon open examination from a mind of Reason.

And Marxism has no business being taught in a Business School at a university; because it’s theories are anti-business and candidly (as I boast a degree in Marketing thus making me more qualified to comment upon economics), Marxism fails as Macro-economic model in the first place! And Marxism IS studied in high school…which is where it belongs; with less developed intellects.

You’re an aburd, fucking fraud! You’d starve in the real world, which is why you’ve fled to the comfort of a college campus.
From Dana Bender (danabender@inbox.com)

That was embarrassing on Laura Ingrahm’s show. As a former student I listened with great interest. I am glad my days of schooling occurred in the 70s when communist sickos like you weren’t running things. Dana Bender
Thanks for being worried about me:

Dr. Cloud.

I happened to be listening to the Laura Ingram show and heard some
(though not all) of what you had to say. I have come to the conclusion
(especially after looking at your picture on the U of T web site) that
only someone who was deeply hurt or humiliated (probably early in life)
could be so bitter towards the country and society that gave you so
much.. The truth is I am sorry for you, it must be difficult to get up
each day knowing that there is nothing but hate, loathing, and
discontent to look forward too. Why on earth would you want to live
like that? I will pray for you Dr. Cloud. I will pray that your eyes
will be opened to the displaced anger or hurt that resides inside you.
That you will see that holding on to such anger or hurt will and has
turned you into a bitter proponent of some very destructive
philosophical positions. I will also pray that you find some sort of
personal happiness.

C. Delmain.
A little nicer . . .

OK, I do admit that I am being “tacky”. I also admit that I am a fan of Laura’s but she didn’t give you much of a chance to explain your position on her show this morning.

Regards,
Owen

From: Dana Cloud [mailto:dcloud@mail.utexas.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 11:46 AM
To: Youngblood, Owen W
Subject: Re: Laura Ingram Show

Well, I did what I could. Sorry you didn’t like it.

dc

On 3/6/07 12:31 PM, “Youngblood, Owen W” <owen.w.youngblood@intel.com> wrote:
Dana,

I heard you today on the Laura Ingram radio show. You did not defend your position well at all. Too bad.

Owen Youngblood
Dallas, Oregon

Qualified support . . .
Thank you for your rapid reply. I feel that Laura, David and you all had excellent points. I doubt that the duration of your class permits adequate time to explore all viewpoints as Laura suggested. At the conclusion of your lesson however, I would expect you the instructor to dwell on the fact that we, the USA is not perfect but to date the USA is the best place to live and the best there is on the planet. If you don’t believe this line of reasoning, then you should pack your bags. Oh! the answer to Laura’s question is “Yes” the USA has been a net positive. My viewpoint of course.

On 3/6/07, Dana Cloud <dcloud@mail.utexas.edu> wrote:
> Gosh, I can appreciate that.
> My website is http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~dcloud .
> Keep in mind that I do not deny being political. But I DO vehemently deny
> indoctrinating my students.
> From there you can link to my political blog (which is not an official
> university site and is not connected to my teaching.)
> From the blog you can connect to a number of other websites (again, not linked
> to my teaching).
>
> Cheers,
> dc
From the open minded:

> On 3/6/07 11:33 AM, “M.R. Brown” < mrbrownus@gmail.com
> <mailto:mrbrownus@gmail.com> > wrote:
>
>> Hi,
>> I’m very interested in learning more. Could you please supply me with some
>> of your favorite web sites which will help me understand your position in a
>> more complete way rather than to jump to conclusions due to the small bit of
>> info presented on the radio this morning. Thank You in advance for this
>> info. Mr. Brown @ Salt Lake City, Ut
>>

From someone worried about Islam:

Ms. Cloud,

Ever since 9/11, I have studied Islam, so I would know what the Western world is dealing with. I have read 14 books on the subject or more and this book is a must…
If you worry about the plight of women and certainly your own daughter, you can’t miss this book. It is about a woman from Kenya or Somalia that is being forced into an arranged marriage, she bolts from it and goes to another country with Holland finally giving her assylum, the rest is “real” history and her collaboration with Theo Van Gogh and then his murder, and seeing what she did with her past.
I plan on getting this book for my daughter not only to show her what the real world outside the Western World is like, but as an incentive for her life.. Compared to these persons lives, we live in paradise..

Amazon.com: Infidel: Books: Ayaan Hirsi Ali <http://www.amazon.com/Infidel-Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali/dp/0743289684&gt; From someone with questions for Laura and David:
I find Laura’s inquisition style of rigid questioning to be amusing, since she we all know that she who frames the question also frames the answer.

A few questions for Laura and David, that are sure to give them epileptic fits:
* is land supposed to be inherited by religious affiliation or blood kinship?
* is self-determination defined by territorial contiguity of people or membership in a group? ( i.e. do the group of people who like tennis deserve a nation at the expense of locals who may not have been there for 3000 years? )
*
* are human rights vested in groups or in individuals?
* did the US commit any terrorist actions in South America in the last century?
* why does the US continue to support dictators in Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia?
* if the US is to be credited with “liberating” Iraq in 2003, should not the US also be blamed for Saddam’s last 15 years of power, since the US prevented Iran from defeating Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war?
* if Saddam was evil, what did that make previous US presidents who provided monetary support and WMD precursors to Saddam?
* if Hitler had only expelled Jews from Germany instead of killing them, would that have been ok? After all, if Israel belongs to the Jews, shouldn’t Germany belong to the Germanic people?

software engineer
Honolulu, HI

Professor Cloud,

Your appearance on Laura’s radio show was certainly an indisputable
classic example of the term,”academic pretender.”
Some bad spelling . . .

I have been on the faculty and staff of two colleges, your inaccurate
description of the political composition of college faculties
reflects your state of denial of reality.

I would like to pose a question, and I trust it will not be “too
complex” for your response. Perhaps you can explain a paradox, in the
history of Communist rationale.

One of your evasive techniques was an attempt to resort to a charge
of “McCarthyism.” Learned scholars know that Joseph McCarthy had
nothing to do with the “Hollywood Ten”, however, it did engendered my
inquiry. As a Marxist, one of your celebrated heroes is probably John
Howard Lawson, the CP commissar of Hollywood in the ’40s. He and the
“Hollywood Ten” claimed they were “under siege” from the House
Committee on Un-American Activities, and that their “artistic and
creative” freedoms were being denied. Yet, Lawson excoriated and
humiliated Albert Maltz, Herbert Biberman, and Alvah Bessie, along
with many creative Communist writers and artists, because their work
did not comply and conform to the Party line. One might observe that
they too capitulated and were “under siege” from Lawson and the CP,
the very political system they embraced. That was the typical
response, to the Party intimidation of many “freedom loving”
Communist creative artists, until the inquisition of Robert Rossen,
the producer, director, and writer of the film “All The King’s
Men”. I believe, Rossen’s response to Lawson and the CP’s attempted
tirade, would be advisable and worthy for you and your students to
consider, and emulate. Rossen was reportedly catching hell from his
fellow comrades, and after a few minutes, he stood up, shocked the
entire room, and said in a loud voice “Sick the whole Party up your
ass!” He then stormed out of Albert Maltz’s house–and out of the
Communist Part for good. I would appreciate you response.
Cheers!
John S. Meroney, Sr.
__________

And finally

I’m pretty conservative, and really disagree with the revised pledge you
posted, but I was glad to hear you hang in there on that show.

It spurred me to Google your name, and I thought the reply you issued that
began with “Dear those of you whom I have angered with my revised pledge”
was well thought out and well written. I certainly love the internet and
the ability to quickly look up stuff I hear about, and it was cool to get to
know some snippets about who you are and what you do. I love Austin, I love
SXSW and Austin City Limits Festival. Glad you’re a part of that whole
scene down there.

It’s too bad people have resorted to send you unconstructive hate mail.

Keep on teaching, learning, and growing.

Sincerely,

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3 thoughts on “Some of my mail after I debated Horowitz on Laura Ingraham’s Show

  1. Wow DJ Dr. D! You are fighting the good fight all over the place! Kudos to you!

    I admire your willingness to be a teacher inside and outside of the academy. Major props to you for being a public intellectual and enduring the hate mail that this entails!

    XOXO–D(Jx3)

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